By Nathan Pilling
BEAVERCREEK — As Mark Feinstein uses a comically large pair of scissors to cut the ceremonial ribbon in front of his new restaurant in Beavercreek, he’s doing more than just officially welcoming the public. He’s turning to a new chapter in his life, one that he describes as “a dream come true.”
For about the last 20 years, Feinstein, a Beavercreek resident, has been a lawyer practicing primarily in Clark County. But he wasn’t satisfied.
“I hated it,” he said.
“He wasn’t a happy lawyer,” said Tonia Roberts, Feinstein’s fiancé.
And so, about five years ago, Feinstein, a cooking enthusiast, began to experiment with the food that would eventually become the cornerstone of his business.
“I’ve always been a hot dog lover, but I don’t like the idea of what goes in them, I don’t like the idea of what goes around them,” he said. “I set out … to create a hot dog from scratch where I knew absolutely everything that went into it and there was nothing on it that I wouldn’t eat.”
Feinstein looked to set his product apart by actually creating his own: “We started playing with the science of emulsification to make the dog exactly the right texture and everything and found a dog that works,” he said.
Feinstein said his hot dog is made from ground-up steak, which is then mixed with seasonings and spices, and is then hand rolled and dipped in canola oil, which gives the hot dogs their texture.
Designer Dogs, the all-beef, gourmet hot dog restaurant, was born. With the help of Shonda McKenzie, Feinstein’s former secretary at his law practice and now-business partner, the idea is now a reality.
The restaurant has hot dogs with many different themes and toppings, including the mac dog (topped with macaroni and cheese), the frank dog (topped with Frank’s RedHot wings sauce, blue cheese and celery crumbles), the New York dog (topped with house-made hot onion sauce, sauerkraut, yellow mustard and onions), the Chicago dog (topped with relish, sweet onions, mustard, a pickle slice, tomatoes, sports peppers and celery salt), a rotating “dog of the week” (this week’s special is the oscar dog, which features a hot dog with lump crab meat and hollandaise sauce) and other offerings.
“I always had this idea from way back when, that it would be cool to be able to flex a gourmet muscle with a pedestrian food,” Feinstein said. “The hot dog itself is the hot dog, but then as a chef, you could put anything on that. The world is wide open … these incredible flavor combinations make it really attractive to people.”
While his business in the food court at the Mall at Fairfield Commons has only been open for about a week, Feinstein is already looking to the future.
“We’re thinking maybe food truck, maybe franchise,” he said. “We’ve sold over 1,500 dogs. People are telling us it’s the best hot dog they’ve ever had, all kinds of incredible things. We would love to franchise and have these all over the place.”
His dream taking off, Feinstein is relishing the moment as he hears a community response that has been “just overwhelmingly wonderful.”
“I am so appreciative,” he said. “This is a dream come true, literally, for me. This has been something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.